[CF Devotionals] 2015-03-15 - The Fifth Commandment

Effects of Obedience

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For the nation Israel, the promise was that if they honored their parents, they would live long in the land. My first inclination, while reading this, is that it relates to the occupancy of Canaan by the Hebrew people, and disobedience would lead to being cast out. The problem with this understanding is in Ephesians 6:1-4 - Paul carries this promise forward to the church. Now, I don't think we can come to a set understanding as to the meaning of the promise. It apparently did refer to Israel’s occupancy of the land, for as with all God’s commands ,failure here said something about the condition of the nation.

Kalland notes how Paul uses this concept in his commentary on Deuteronomy. “The apostle Paul referred to the fifth commandment as “the first commandment with a promise,” the promise being “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Eph 6:2-3). Paul did not limit the promise either temporally (to OT times) or geographically (to Canaan or Palestine).

Doubtless the reference to “land” here in Deuteronomy was to Canaan as the Land of Promise. That promise was specifically offered to Israel. Nevertheless, the honoring of father and mother as ethical revelation, together with its promise, carries over into all time and everywhere. Furthermore, the promise of an ultimate resting place (homeland) reaches its greatest fulfillment in “a new heaven and a new earth.””

What we can see though is, general disobedience to this command has led to some serious cultural problems. We find that with the deterioration of the family, comes the failure of the nation. To a great extent, the family’s success is a product of the quality of the relationships with in it. As the family goes, so goes the nation. This is why there is some much focus on the family, and concern for its definition among many Christians today.

This promise is generally taken as referring to quality of the life for the one who obeys it. Clearly, when we obey God’s commands, there is a beneficial effect on our lives. For children in the days the commandment was given, their lived longer if they were obedient, for the incorrigible children were put to death. For us, though, the focus shouldn’t be so much on the promise as a reason for obedience - but rather as a desire to please the Lord through obedience.

Series to be continued.

  1. Kalland, Earl S., The Bible Expositor's Commentary, "Deuteronomy," Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI,1990.

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CFD | March 2015 | Geoff's Devotions | Geoff's Studies | Devotional Topics